House leaders to meet with educators this week

Posted February 25, 2013
Updated February 26, 2013

— House Speaker Thom Tillis said he wants educators to help shape the legislation affecting K-12 public schools developed by the General Assembly this year. To that end, the state House is hosting "Education Week," during which superintendents, principals and teachers will come to Raleigh for meetings with legislators.

"All too often, at least in the brief time that I've been here for the last six years, what happens every year is you have well-meaning legislators wanting to come in and propose ideas around reforming education, but they very seldom are reaching out into the current population of education professionals, the people who are on the ground every day," said Tillis, R-Mecklenburg.

The three days of meetings, he said, are meant to begin that dialog. The open meeting schedule, as distributed by the Speaker's office, is as follows:

Q&A Session with Superintendents
House Chamber – Legislative Building
Tuesday, February 26
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Q&A Session with Principals of the Year
House Chamber – Legislative Building
Wednesday, February 27
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Q&A Session with Teachers of the Year
House Chamber – Legislative Building
Thursday, February 28
11:00 am – 1:00 pm

In coming weeks, Tillis said, lawmakers planned to invite representatives from charter schools, private schools and home school groups for similar sessions. 

"I don't expect this week to produce a revelation except the revelation of listening to the people we provide guidance to," Tillis said. He said this week would be about "creating some trust and some relationship" with school leaders so they felt comfortable in giving feedback to lawmakers. 

Responding to questions, Tillis said the following:

  • The state would not have "new money" to back-fill cuts that could come as a result of federal sequestration requirements. Millions of dollars worth of K-12 and early childhood education funding could be cut as the result of the across-the-board cost cutting that Congress is trying to head off this week. 
  • House lawmakers plan on introducing more school choice legislation, including at least one proposal for state education money to "follow the child" to private schools. He referred to "tax credits" when speaking about this plan. Tillis said he expected opposition from teachers groups and school districts on that proposal. "There will be times we will have to agree to disagree," he said of the school choice discussion. 
  • Asked about virtual charter schools, Tillis said any such proposals would have to vetted and compared to options already available form public schools.
  • The legislature would likely push forward with plans to remake teacher tenure and to introduce more "pay-for-performance" measures in public schools, however the details of those plans would have to be worked out.

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